power pop from Toronto, Ontario, Canada
power pop from Toronto, Ontario, Canada
jangle pop from Calgary, Alberta, Canada
I feel as though each of these three records work well with the seasons and have certainly done their part in keeping me collected in the last few weeks. They are also some of the more unique pieces that I have stumbled upon in a long while and as such, deserve as much credit as I can give.
Katie Dey’s Asdfasdf is something between a really wonderful dream and an unstable nightmare. In both ways the record works to perfection, providing the most bizarre warped vocals that i’ve ever heard, but still soothing me to sleep at the same time. I am at that point in my life where brooding, depressing sounds have found their way into the “recently added” section of my iTunes library, with “Fear o the Dark” being my most played. The best part about this record, however, is the completely off-the-wall, happy-go-lucky Wes Anderson styled anthem that is “Unkillable”. I couldn’t believe the amazing transition that Dey created between “Fear o the Dark’s” verge of death lament and the treetop screamer in “Unkillable”. That transition alone makes the entire album worth every minute. I really can’t say enough incredible things about Asdfasdf.
Stay Cool Forever’s Among My Slime is another mess of abrasive bliss that i’ve been absolutely enthralled with. On the surface, Among My Slime feels silly, almost childish in a sense, but the eccentric instrumentation is just one layer of the sound. If you strip that away you’ll have something much more endearing. Tracks like, “Fun Wound” and “Cecilia” teeter on the edge between playful and semi-serious, just the way I like it.
I Dont Wanna Die In Here’s self titled effort has been an ever expanding release considering every time I return to their Bandcamp page, the album has another two songs. Right now, I Dont Wanna Die In Here is my go-to for something sweet and serene. Much of the record sounds as if it was recorded on a mid 20th century telephone, giving it the essence of an “ultimate” lo-fi release. “Never Stay but Dont Leave” as well as “Stop Fight” also work with playful emotions (do you notice a trend?) evoking wistful and exuberant energy and at the same time, something so unperturbed.
Text by Berkley Bragg
Issue #3 of Discoveries
dream pop from Surrey, England, United Kingdom
emo from Bloomington, Minnesota, USA
dream pop from Coventry, England, United Kingdom
dream pop from Boston, Massachusetts, USA
indie rock from Boston, Massachusetts, USA
The last time I saw Cole Méndez – who goes under the moniker of Grant Ulysses – was at a birthday bonfire at his buddy’s house in their hometown of Orillia, Ontario. That night was filled with cheap beer, cheap cigarettes and good conversations. Much like how Orillian’s can produce great parties, they can also produce even better music. The first musician that comes to mind when I think of Orillia music is the man himself: Cole Méndez. Cole manages to capture such an unfathomable atmosphere and tone in his music that you be a fool not to pay attention to him. I recently got a chance to talk to Cole Méndez about his other musical projects, the deep meaning behind his moniker and about his song writing process. Enjoy!
Hello Cole, how are you today?
I’m pretty good man. Always pretty good. It’s been a while, we gotta get together this summer and make some shit.
This has to be asked: I always wondered where exactly the name Grant Ulysses came from?
Well, Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States, and happened to be President during the American Civil War. He helped lead the Union Army in defeating the Confederacy. Honestly, it’s a name that’s kind of personal to me now – living as a mixed race kid in perpetually pale Northern Ontario and having to deal with confederate flag-waving redneck assholes. Plus it sounds cool, it’s easy enough to remember and spell – all the important stuff.
Where did your Dream-Pop influence derive from? At the time I knew you, you were in a Pop Punk band. Those are two pretty different genres on the end of the spectrum. Did you always have a very versatile music taste?
Growing up I played classical piano, and my dad always had old blues and jazz stuff playing in the house – but then I would go to school with Get Rich or Die Tryin’ in my Walkman – so I grew accustomed to a lot of different stuff. I got into pop-punk and heavier stuff when I started high school. A lot of those genre DIY bands are friends with the new underground shoegaze/dream-pop crowd, and I started gravitating towards that sound and then going backwards in time to see what really influenced it and how it evolved.
It’s impressive to see you play/have a part in tons of other musical projects up there in Orillia. What other musical projects are you a part of and where do you find the time to be in them all?
I play piano in the Cole Mendez Trio, and we just play jazz at corporate gigs and restaurants and stuff. It’s a good time. It is where my real musical passion is – plus it pays better than the Dream-Pop stuff. Other than that I keep forming these bands with friends, a noisy-garage rock group called Obituary Names, the bluegrass band Wildwood Flower – we always manage to get a few practices in before everything falls apart. There’s a lot of talent around but it’s a hard time to try to be dedicated to one thing. That’s why I like solo projects.
You write, record, produce and play every instrument in this Grant Ulysses project. That’s admirable and talented. Have you ever thought of taking Grant Ulysses as a full band/what do you do if you play live?
I’ve been looking into getting a live band together for a while now. The main issue is what I said above, as well as me either forgetting how to play my own songs on guitar, or being so far away from where I was mentally when I wrote the old stuff that I don’t even want to touch it now.
I recently saw in a tweet of yours that new Grant Ulysses material is on the way. What could listeners expect from this release compared to earlier work on the Twin Visions EP?
Yeah, I’m working on a new EP. I have a single already done, plus an unreleased cover of a pretty popular song that I might throw up on YouTube. This EP definitely has a fuller, richer sound – and that comes from more interesting chord progressions, as well as getting more electric piano and synthesizer sounds behind everything else.
Do you have a favourite song of yours?
Shadows is my favourite track on the old EP, but I never think about that. My unreleased single called “Treasure Chest” is what I’m really digging at the moment. Those and the old Obituary Names song Selfish still really resonate with me.
Your lyrics are very gloomy and melancholic; I mean that in a good way. Where do you get your lyrical inspiration?
This is a long answer. I get a distorted version of reality really. I’m constantly observing things (objects, emotions, ideas, behaviors, relationships) around me and writing them down – but in more abstract forms or maybe in their most distilled version. Each line starts out as an entire idea first; like I remember earlier today I was walking and saw this tiny apartment complex and started writing about being able to touch all of your possessions at the same time. Then I try to say that in as little words as possible, and that becomes a line. With that, structurally, I think of each line, as it’s own individual idea more than attempting to create good flow line to line. Each one is self-contained. I don’t know if that’s as evident in my earlier work as it is in the forthcoming material. In my songs I try to focus mostly on the melody and timbre of my voice, and the way it sits in the mix. I like to think of my voice as another instrument more than anything else.
Could you walk me through on your thought process and recording of my favourite track of yours, Apathy?
Yeah man. That song’s interesting because there’s no actual rhythm guitar part, only two different leads. I definitely remember starting with the intro bass line, just a cool riff I worked out messing around. The lead guitar parts in the verse are pretty repetitive, forming a bit of a chord structure but that just floats overtop of what the bass is doing. I usually write linearly, coming up with all the instrumentation for one part before moving onto another. But I think bass still came first as I started working on the chorus, it just kinda falls together. I’ll just loop sections and mess around until I find something that works, and then I’ll record it. There’s no bridge as well, I hate bridges. I don’t think any of my songs have one bridge on that EP. And oh, everything’s recorded in Logic Pro X.
What music have you been jamming to lately dude?
Hyperview [Title Fights new record] is absolutely killer. It’s a huge influence on the next EP for sure. Everything on Run For Cover is great, and I’m really digging what Turnover’s new stuff sounds like. I’ve always listened to a lot of DIIV and Mac DeMarco, and I know other stuff on Captured Tracks is great, but I haven’t listened to everything. I also really like the direction Ceremony is taking on their new LP The L-Shaped Man. That’s all new stuff though. Like I said, I got super into the original dreampop and shoegaze stuff. I started listening to a lot of MBV, Slowdive, Ride, Galaxie 500, Jesus and Mary Chain, the Stone Roses, the Sundays, Spacemen 3, the Pastels. Shit like that. I don’t necessarily draw inspiration from that but it’s good to have some context for what people today are doing.
Couldn’t agree more on that new Ceremony LP man. And finally, any bands or albums people should check out that we may not of heard?
Questions by Lukas Foote
Answers and photos by Cole Méndez
lo-fi pop from Los Angeles, California, USA
bedroom pop from Los Angeles, California, USA
In case you were uhh.. ‘preoccupied’ and hazy on April 20th of this year, chances are you probably missed Philadelphia’s own: Sad Actor’s third release entitled Creepin’. Creepin’ is a fuzzy, grungy, emo-esque EP compiled with discontent and despair. This 2track EP is a great follow up from their previously (and my favourite) EP called Try To Remember that came out last November. I suggest ya’ll get in on that Philadelphian music scene; that city has released nothing but great bands and songs.
This stoner-rock n’ roll band hailing from Toronto, Canada has been filling my ear buds with intense emotion. It’s no secret this band absolutely rips. Their début EP Outta Control has drawn in some serious attention and not just within the Southern Ontario music scene. Alexisonfire/Gallows member Wade MacNeil -who now DJ’s a rock station in T.O- has even given the deserving band radio airtime. Also, in the words of Wade: “Congrats on finding a kick ass band name in 2015”.
If you weren’t aware of this newly founded project by ex- Tigers Jaw member Adam Mcllwee, now you do. Adam in Tigers Jaw was known for his scratchy guitar tones and personal style of his intriguing, droning, unique voice. It seems now he has now taken those abstract vocals to a new location, in the form of an electronica/trap project under the moniker Wicca Phase Springs Eternal. As Adam himself puts it, his music could be described as “Morrissey meets Chief Keef”. That’s a pretty interesting and badass hybrid if you ask me.
His forthcoming album called Abercrombie & Me is releasing soon and this is a single off of it called Nightfall I’ve been jamming to lately. I do recommend scrolling WPSE’s soundcloud and figuring out for yourself- what you should think of it.
Text by Lukas Foote
Issue #2 of Discoveries
fuzz pop from Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom
I stumbled upon this split a week or so ago on Bandcamp while I was just browsing through. I remember hearing about Girlpool through mutual friends back in Florida, so my best interest was to give their split with Slutever a listen. Both bands hail from the city of Los Angeles and released this split in October 2014 before an east coast tour.
I can relate a lot to this split in the spirit of being a 20-something-female, just wanting to have fun and trying not to give a shit (but really giving a shit) about anything. The lyrics are very relatable and catchy and the guitar chords that Girlpool uses in their songs, although simple, perfectly complement with Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad’s harmonizing vocals. Girlpool covers Slutever’s “White Flag” as the intro track to this split and you get the angsty female punk feel right away. Songs about being in a place you need to get away from and dumb boys and going to shows are the contents of this split.
Slutever is completely new to me and I am pleasantly surprised by how equally great they are. Their sound is a lot more lo-fi punk than Girlpool, but the combination of these two groups together is perfection. Their songs have a garage rock, grunge feel to them as well, particularly the song “Stomach Ache” which ends the split. The guitar riffs are distorted and drone on and I love it. The lyrics too are easily going to get stuck in your head when the chorus rolls around playing “I’ve got a stomach ache”
If you are looking for some great female punk musicians, I recommend you check out Girlpool and Slutever on Bandcamp and Facebook. These gals have got an abundance of other songs and albums available and their split together will leave you needing to listen to more.
Text by Catherine Chamberlin
Photos by Girlpool and Slutever
bedroom sad pop from Dallas, Texas, USA
Pants, jumper, headphones on tangled hair and the stamp from last nights gig transferred onto my face. I have dedicated the morning to listening to the whole 23 tracks of the Henry Demos & Lewtrakimou split and I am feeling very content. Jingly Jangly sad core: combined they have pretty depressing song titles Sad As Buckets, Useless, Worried, Starve…. And the list continues! ‘Sad As Buckets’ just repeats the lyrics “sad, sad ,sad, sad, it’s fucking sad… she’s really sad” but then there are tracks like Man, Tie A Sucker Down which make me want to sofa dance. There is also an ambience to a lot of the tracks that makes me feel like I should be listening to the album in a cathedral, with Henry and Lew dressed in robes.
Dog Legs are the duo Moe Meade and Liam Bradbury, haling from Brighton, UK. On bandcamp they are tagged as alternative, garage, indie, noise, shoegaze, pop. At HQ (my house) we have been listening to their Holiday EP cassette on repeat and have been making alternative genres for Dog Legs… so far we have come up with “direct pop” and “not beating around the bush pop”! I have never been good at remembering lyrics but find great pleasure in shouty singing the few words I can remember on loop, so a band that will release a track purely consisting of the lyrics “I TRUSTED YOU” are my kind of band!
Sitcom (AKA Jake Lazovick) is bedroom pop from Baltimore. Sitcom’s latest bandcamp release is 01112015, a very colourful live album consisting of blue shoes, green hats and yellow jackets! My love for Sitcom started with Yellow Jacket (and a live version of this song features on 01112015). I remember discovering Yellow Jacket back in January, just before heading off to my night shift. I finished my shift only with the memory that I found a really great track the day before, with no idea of the artists name and no recollection of where I found it. I went on “operation search for THAT track” and then stropped when I thought the song had run away from me forever… I remember eventually finding it, listening to every single one of Sitcom’s bandcamp uploads and going to sleep happy.
Text by Lar Eade-Green
Issue #1 of Discoveries
bedroom pop from Falmouth, Cornwall, United Kingdom
A special characteristic of a music blogger is meeting a large number of people over internet. That’s how I have met Rafael Grafals, owner of Heart And Soul music blog. When you are following Orchid Tapes scene, you are probably familiar with his blog. He belongs to that type of people you will never forget you have met. I really admire his great taste in music and after this interview I have realized I also share with him a lot of thoughts and ideas.
What was the impulse to start a (tumblr) music blog?
I had just started digging through bandcamp and found a lot of really cool music that no one I knew was really talking about. I would send my friends links to stuff all the time and decided to just turn it into something I did. I also started reading blogs like We Listen For You and Flashlight Tag that really inspired me to start blogging.
Recently you have reached 1000 followers. How long did it take?
Yikes. It took too long for sure. I’ve been doing this for years now but I feel like just last year I figured out what I’m doing and how to blog (fairly) consistently.
How did come up with the name Heart And Soul?
I honestly can’t even remember. I just remember not being happy with the previous name (Brighter Sounds) and wanting to change it up. Sometimes people ask me if it’s a Joy Division reference and I just say yes.
Do you remember the first band/song you have posted on your blog?
Yeah! It was Grandpa Was a Lion. Can’t remember the specific song but I remember specifically that it was GWAL because he was a huge reason why I started music blogging. He also emailed me the other day saying he’s working on music again which I am really excited about.
Have your music taste changed since you started your blog?
Definitely. Exposure to a lot of weird stuff on bandcamp has led to me learning about a lot of music just because I’d hear a band and find out the who/what inspired them. I’ve learned a solid amount of music history because of it too. Also writing led to me being exposed to a lot of cool electronic music which I didn’t really have much of a background with when I first started.
Do you have any criteria that a song or an album should have to be posted on your site?
I guess I just try not to write about bands that are already really well known. I don’t have a specific line that I draw but no one needs to hear me talk about Arcade Fire or something. In terms of style, I guess I’ve been writing more about pop music lately but I still write about ambient / drone stuff too.
What is your three most favorite genres and why?
Pop music, in a very broad sense of the word, is really inspiring to me. I just think there’s a lot that goes into writing a melody that sticks really well, or a hook that gets stuck in your head. Ambient music has always been about escapism for me, sort of creating spaces where I feel safe so I love it a lot. I feel like there’s a lot you can do in ambient music like dealing with catharsis and portraying emotions in a purely sonic way that I really like. I guess hip hop would be the third. It just feels like a genre that keeps getting weirder and weirder and is really open to change.
Have you ever thought about making living out of your blog or music?
I used to think I wanted to make a living off of music writing but the more I think about it the less appealing it seems to me. I don’t know, I guess there’s a fear if becoming really jaded or hating writing once it becomes my job.
Have you ever thought about stopping doing your music blog?
Funny that you should ask because I’ve been thinking a lot about ending the blog after this year is over. I still love writing but I feel like the blog has sort of run its course at this point. I’ve been doing this for a long time now and I’ve loved it but I might be ready to move on. I’m giving myself the rest of the year to think about it, though. I could easily end up changing my mind.
What was the first record you have ever bought?
First CD I ever purchased was the Paul McCartney Back in the US Tour live album. I actually haven’t listened to it in a while but I used to play it every night before I went to bed on my parents’ boombox.
Which type of physical media do you prefer and why?
Vinyl is still my favorite form of physical media. My sound equipment honestly isn’t even great enough for me to notice a huge difference between vinyl and high quality digital music but I love having album artwork in a larger, physical form and I think there’s a lot of great stuff you can do with vinyl packaging.
You are also hosting shows. Do you find it difficult?
I only recently started doing that so I don’t have much experience but the two shows I’ve booked so far have been pretty easy to set up. That’s also because the spaces I booked them at have been really easy to work with and very cooperative.
What was your favorite show you ever hosted?
Honestly haven’t hosted enough to have a stand out favorite yet. The two shows I’ve set up so far (Secret Mountain / Pebbles / Free Cake For Every Creature / Florist and Margo / Steve Sobs / Noble Oak) have both been really special for me.
Do you prefer music venues or special places, house shows?
I honestly have no taste in venues besides absolutely loving the Silent Barn here in Brooklyn. It’s the only space I’ve made any real emotional attachment with and that’s just because everyone I’ve encountered there has been fantastic.
Recently you had your first gig. How did it turn out?
It was great! I played with Red Alder and it was such an honor because I’ve been listening to her music since before I even started recording my own. I had a really great time and felt like my set went really well. It made me really excited to play more shows and work on more music in the future.
Rafael at his first gig
Have you always wanted to write own music and start to play shows?
Yeah I’ve been involved with music since around the 5th grade so I’ve always loved the idea of writing my own music and performing it so it’s been something I wanted to do for a really long time.
How did you decide how your music project should sound like?
I feel like the sound itself happened naturally. I just started trying to make music that was a direct extension of what I was feeling and what I needed to make for myself. Like I mentioned before, ambient music for me has always been about escapism so that’s sort of what I went into this project with in mind, a way of sort of getting away from all the negativity I’ve encountered in my life, creating a safe space for myself because often I don’t feel very safe.
What are your plans with the blog and your music project?
The blog can really go anywhere at this point as I’m not really sure what I’m gonna end up doing with it. As far as my music project goes, I just wanna play a lot of shows and get back to recording soon, maybe release a tape before the end of the year.
Have you ever wanted to start a label?
It was a dream of mine to run a label for a while but now I’m not too sure. It’s definitely a huge investment and I’m not sure if it’s something I could take on given the things I’m working on at the moment. It would be really great to start one some day though.
How did you meet all people in music scene Orchid Tapes, Teen Suicide, FMLY, etc.?
Pretty much through the internet. Most of the time it’s that I make some sort of connection with them online and then we meet in person at a show or something. I feel like this still happens even with local musicians.
Do you find it hard to manage school with your interests?
I actually don’t go to school. I’m working five days a week though which often sucks the inspiration out of me and makes it hard for me to want to be creative or do writing.
Do you have any specific dream regarding music?
That’s hard to say. I don’t have any long-term goals at the moment that are related to music. The one thing I feel I really want to accomplish is making music that heals people in the same way a lot of my favorite records have helped me through a lot. I’d love to be able to give back in that aspect and help someone through art.
What are your three recent best discoveries?
Big Hush, Ruhe, and sister palace. I found all three of them on bandcamp digs in the past few months and I love all of their work so much. Big Hush and sister palace are more pop leaning type bands that are just really good at songwriting and Ruhe is an ambient artist whose album Chamber Loops has been really inspirational to me lately.
Name one advice you would give other music bloggers based on your experience.
I guess the main piece of advice I’d give is never feel like you have to generate writing on a super strict schedule or else you might feel pressured to write about things you might not even care about that much.
And last two questions. Why did you dyed your hair blonde and why did you changed your middle name to Bandcamp?
Haha well the bleach blonde thing was just a result of me having wanted to do that for a while and finally being pushed to do it after a few of my friends tried it. The Bandcamp thing was based off of a joke someone made about me and my friends where they took a picture of us and said, “wow look they came dressed as bandcamp.” A lot of my friends still don’t let me forget about that so I played along with it and made it my middle name on Facebook (but then they made me get rid of it).
Questions by Filip Zemcik
Answers by Rafael Grafals
Photo by Fairleigh Rose
dream pop from Brooklyn, New York, USA
sad pop from Lenox, Massachusetts, USA
shoegaze from San Francisco, California, USA
bedroom folk from Asheville, North Carolina, USA
It was the Autumn/ Winter of 2013 and I was living in a flat above a bookshop, which turned out to have a very leaky roof! We would be rudely awoken by a drip, drip, drip and begrudgingly get out of bed to try and collect the rain drops in buckets, with the water seeming to appear from everywhere. It was around this time that I got numerous tweets from Ellis (AKA TRUST FUND) asking whether he could crash on my sofa after playing a gig. The leaky roof did not deter him! These were the days when Ellis was touring lonesome with a little help from Mat Riveire. Fast forward a year or two and he is now playing with a full band and after numerous smaller releases (including a split EP with Joanna Gruesome) has just released his debut album No One’s Coming For Us via Turnstile Music!
I am very happy to present to you my email interview with Ellis from Trust Fund!
Hello, how are you today?
Eurgh, I’m ok. Can’t sleep at the moment and haven’t really spoken to anyone in 4 days cos feeling quite anxious. My dad reads every Trust Fund interview there is though, so dad if you’re reading this, don’t worry.
You have released your debut album ‘No one’s coming for us’ through Turnstile, which is all very exciting….
Yeah, I agree that it is exciting, and a couple of months on it still feels exciting to me so that’s good I guess. They asked to put it out after it was already finished, which surprised me cos i thought it was maybe not recorded well enough for them to want to put out. But they didn’t wanna change anything and they have been very supportive so far, and have let me choose obnoxious artwork (for this album and for the next album).
Reeks of Effort have released ‘No one’s coming for us’ and your EP ‘Don’t let them begin’ on cassette, as well as you having two tracks on Sick of Hits vol.2 limited edition tape… What do you like about cassettes?
Nothing really? I like them fine, but Max who runs RoE is into tapes, and so it’s his choice rather than mine. I guess to an extent it’s about resisting ‘mainstream’ formats or whatever, and trying to create space for yourself away from that, but I think the format is only a small part of doing that — record store day and stuff maybe shows how you can’t keep a format safe from big label interference cos if there’s money there then they will just come back.
When I saw you play in 2013 you were playing solo with a little help from Mat Riviere and you both slept on my sofa. You now have a band behind you, how did that come about?
I think the band just sounded better than me on my own (Mat is a great drummer so that was always good), and I gradually got less confident about playing without them, and enjoying playing with them so much more.
Are the days where you were travelling to shows by public transport and sleeping on peoples sofas behind you!? What are your top survival tips for doing tours on a small budget?
Nooo that is still mainly what is happening. I think we have stayed in a hotel a few times but it has always felt like a bizarre novelty. i don’t have any advice really, sorry. Just do what you want.
You have been on tour supporting your debut album, how do you and your band normally entertain yourself when you are on the road? Have you got any fun tour stories?
We play Jelaball.
When I saw you in Manchester you were all talking about your stage banter! How is your stage banter coming along?
Umm quite badly I think. Roxy has a thing where she makes a joke about “#TheDress” at every show. I think it is pretty hilarious but either people have never heard of the dress in some cities (including Cardiff and London which seems unlikely), or they have a very short/selective memory. It is usually met by silence.
On your 7 date Feb ’15 tour you travelled from Bristol to Glasgow so I am sure you have spent lots and lots of time on motorways. What is your favourite service station?
They are all the same to me except for Tebay which I dislike.
I did a Health degree and can’t help being a little concerned that bands will struggle to have a healthy balanced diet when they are touring. I can just imagine everyone eating copious amounts of crisps from service stations. What is your staple diet when you are on tour?
Umm I have a lot of M&S salads? And a lot of crisps but crisps make me feel bad. Sometimes I sit in a massage chair at the services but they aren’t on and it’s uncomfortable.
What are your favourite veggie/ vegan places to eat?
In Leeds (where I live now) it is probably Grove Cafe or New Ho Garden. Although what I mainly like from New Ho Garden is things in satay sauce, but my friend Emily told me how to make it and now I can do it myself kinda.
What have you been listening to on repeat recently?
Infinity Crush and also just people talking to help me sleep.
I see that you are on the Green Man line-up!! I went there last year and it is such a beautiful festival. What else do you have lined-up for 2015?
Not much else in the summer, maybe another couple of shows. Then Autumn/Winter will be busy hopefully.
You can get yourself a copy of No One’s Coming For Us here!
Interview by Lar Eade-Green
Answers by Ellis
baroque folk from Baltimore, Maryland, USA
atmospheric dream pop from Christchurch, New Zealand
I have met Andi Dvořák at Creepy Teepee festival in Kutná Hora, Czech Republic. He was there with bands from his Austrian label Fettkakao based in Vienna. We have not talked a lot, but later I have approached him over internet and we chatted few times. Then I have met him again at another Creepy Teepee and we talked a little bit more. From time to time he sends me news from his label and I am always happy to check it out. Last week I have approached him with few questions about his label and music life as well.
When and why did you start the label Fettkakao?
I started Fettkakao in the summer of 2005. In my understanding, everyone was participating and communicating within the punk community, which I was part of since my early teenage years. I was writing a fanzine, playing in bands and setting up shows w/ friends, so starting a label at age of 25 was doing another one of those things.
What is the story behind the name?
Krawalla from Räuberhöhle (Berlin) was visiting us in Vienna. During her stay at our shared flat, my friend Lisa Max asked Krawalla if she’d already had a fettkakao, she was referring to the way I made Hot Chocolate. From that day on, I was called Fettkakao by Krawalla.
Do you remember your first release?
Of course! It was the the Vortex Rex – Short Attention Span 7″. For me, it was the punkest record/act in our area, but I knew no one around us would put that out. It wasn’t indie enough for the established labels, and it didn’t fit the punk formula of the HC labels.
Which type of physical media do you prefer?
I love vinyl. I was socialized with that medium. Nevertheless, my main focus lies on the artists and the documentation and manifestation of their work.
It is hard to run a label in Austria?
I guess as hard as it is everywhere else. We have an okay funding system here, but shipping prices are very high, and since I don’t intend to release sellable items in the first place, it is always a question if I will recoup the costs.
Have you ever thought about moving to some other country?
Yes, but not because of the label. Also, I really like living in Vienna.
How do you approach bands to be part of your label?
I release music by friends of mine, people I admire and feel connected to, like their art, performance, message and music, I guess.
Do you have a lot of music submissions?
Not that many, people still send me emails though.
What should a band have in order to be released by you?
Something to say? But really, I constantly figure out myself what it is. As said before, my friends make great art and I am still making new friends.
How big is alternative indie scene in Austria, particularly in Vienna? Are you part of some community?
What’s really changed in the last 10 or so years in Vienna is that you always have something interesting happening here. People became active. You’d go out and discover something new: shows, art exhibitions, queer feminist performance festivals – all very punk, very thoughtful. Also labels like Totally Wired or Bachelor – they really keep things moving.
Andi and his DJ box
Do you find music reviews important?
Well some write ups never hurt. I still want to share by releasing music.
Do you get a lot of attention in other countries?
Yes. From people like you, luckily. But the thing is that I work locally, because things happen around me. Since my involvement with punk rock, on the other hand, it was communicating around the globe. First letters, fanzines and tape trades, later e-mails and what not.
I still set up shows for touring bands I am a fan of, and also like to tour. I never thought of Fettkakao as an Austrian label, I just happen to live here.
What do you consider as the biggest success with your label?
Being surrounded by a good community, where people are inspired by each other. This is not my success, but I can see how one or more labels could help.
I know you are also working with Mile Me Deaf. Do you enjoy it? How did you met them?
I released a 7″ and an LP and you’ll find MMD tracks on both compilations. Wolfgang was in a band called Killed By 9 Volt Batteries and joined Sex Jams, who released their first single on Fettkakao. Even though it was around much longer, MMD was Wolfgangs little known solo project. By late 2010, I was setting up an MMD show and thought about releasing a 7″. It turned into a band later and they have released 3 records on Siluh, their current label.
What is the toughest part of running a music label and being a manager?
You work with human beings which is wonderful, but it can be challenging sometimes.
Are you able to make a living off of music?
No, I don’t live off it and I never intended to.
You are also part of a band called Lime Crush formed from Fettkakao family. Why did you start that one?
I haven’t had a band in over 10 years, although I helped out and played (mostly bass) in bands I was working with from time to time. But I wanted to be in a punk band again, performing, being part of the writing process, and traveling around. So I asked Panini, Veronika and Nicoletta and they all said yes!
What are your plans with this music project?
We released a 7″ in January, toured a little bit and now have recorded a song for the upcoming Totally Wired compilation. We are doing some shows with Alte Sau from Hamburg in May and then play some shows in Hungary in July. We are working on some more shows in June at the moment as well.
What is your biggest music dream?
Playing with my friends and being able to tour.
What did you listen to when you were a child?
I liked some radio songs, but did not give it much attention. I was more impressed by Ghostbusters and cartoons than by music.
Do you remember the first physical record you ever bought?
It must have been a Credit To The Nation or Therapy? LP. I first listened to stuff my sister had. She introduced me to Rock music.
Name three new bands that are worth checking out.
Kristy and the Kraks, Trash Kit, and Dubais.
Question by Filip Zemcik
Answers by Andi Dvořák
Photo by Peter Schernhuber
lo-fi pop from Boston, Massachusetts, USA
psychedelic pop from Athens, Greece
jangle lo-fi pop from Byron Bay, Australia
I have said it before, and I will type it again: Molly Drag will have you waving around in a sonic ocean of ambience, despair and heartbreak. The same thing could be said about the newly released Molly Drag song “Open Casket Hidden Meaning.”
At the start of this track, the familiarity of the paulstretch effect is heard. The paulstretch effect was used quite a bit in the Molly Drag fulllength debut: Deeply Flawed. This effect has become a signature, or a characteristic trait for Michael Hansford. Hearing the paulstretch over some slow acoustic picking right off the intro of OPHM gives the song the nostalgic notion of another ambient, nebulous, slow-jam.
The lyrics are very bleak, unpromising, and full of depressing topics such as death (“My coffin thrown into the ground/fills the empty spaces here/I am the blood, you are the crown/She feels the bodies buried here.”), addiction and the bad trips you may conjure up while high (“Addiction always has its waste/but your hands were on my face/and you were suffocating me.”). I would not expect any different subject matters from a song inspired by a funeral.
Molly Drag’s Open Casket Hidden Meaning is part of a 15-track compilation by MD’s label Hellur Records entitled “I Still Call You My Friend”. It is currently available up on Bandcamp for the ideal hipster price of “Buy Now name your price” and includes other great tracks on it by label mates such as Claws & Organs and Sorority Noise.
Text by Lukas Foote
Photo by Molly Drag
bedroom rock from Toronto, Ontario, Canada
hardcore from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
beats from Seoul, South Korea
lo-fi pop from Sagamihara, Japan
folk pop from Olympia, Washington, USA
lo-fi pop from New York, New York, USA
indie pop from San Francisco, California, USA
Behind the name Princess Reason you would probably look for a female musician, but the truth is different. Jack Stansbury formerly coming from College Park, Maryland – living now in Los Angeles, has been doing music under this name for a while. I remember following his music from its very beginnings and it always had a special place in my music collection. His songs have a special bedroom lo-fi vibe that is fitting for my taste. We worked a few times on compilations for my website and talk a little bit over Facebook about different music topics for quite some time now. I have decided to do a short interview with him about his music life as Princess Reason.
When did you start playing guitar? Why this instrument?
I started playing guitar when I was 14 because my friends played and it seemed like a fun time. I became obsessed with music very quickly. Guitar was the easiest to play, and you can start writing your own songs on it after you learn two chords.
Who was the biggest motivation for you?
My friends that were already playing and trying to create things in a new way. I always drew and made things, but this was something different.
Do you prefer writing music by yourself?
I guess so. I write riffs constantly and then pair them with some words, and eventually a song sometimes emerges. However, when the song is played by the band the other players bring their own compositions to it and it changes. I prefer when what I’ve done alone is brought together with other contributions.
What is the toughest part of writing process?
Turning a riff into something that sticks, that i actually want to play over and over again.
What are the sources of inspiration for your lyrics?
With lyrics I mostly approach them as an element that complements the sound of the song. The actual words come from observations, characters, a mix of things.
Have you ever thought about stopping doing music?
Not really, it seems like I can’t stop making it. It’s just a part of what I do on a basic level.
Your songs have specific sound. How did you achieve that?
I think it’s probably my voice, it isn’t particularly good but it’s different. With my home recordings a specific sound developed just out of my limitations.
How did you end up with name Princess Reason?
Princess Reason is the name of a character from the book The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. It is a book with a lot of puns, it’s one of my favorites. It is worth checking out, and definitely worth showing your kids (if you have any).
You have moved to California. What was the reason? Do you miss your hometown?
I moved to California to work in film, but I wasn’t very happy in LA and I came back to Baltimore. I’m very glad to be back home. I met some nice people in Los Angeles that I remain friends with, but it wasn’t for me.
Did the moving affect your music?
Not really in any kind of sound or genre way, I had less access to recording equipment in LA so that changed my recorded sound a little bit. I didn’t have drums so i used a keyboard drum track, and my amp was my roommates bass amp.
You were part of college label Tricot Records. Was it hard to have left it behind?
It is something I miss, but I also realize nostalgia isn’t worth spending a lot of time with.
You are planning a new release. What should listeners expect?
This is the first release to be recorded with a full band. I’ve been very lucky to play with great people. Mike (Drums) and Morgan (bass, vocals) are terrific musicians. It’s also the first release to be recorded outside of my room. We recorded the songs here in Baltimore with Chester Gwazda and the sound quality and mixing has significantly improved. He was awesome to work with and I think the recordings reflect it.
What your plans with Princess Reason? Do you have any musical dreams?
I’d like to keep making songs and playing with friends. That’s about all I need from it.
What did you listen to when you were a child?
When I was young it was probably mostly Beatles and Stones. The first CD I bought was “Big Willie Style” by Will Smith.
Which musicians inspire you the most?
My inspirations change but I’m I’ve been pretty consistently inspired by musicians and bands like Silkworm, Double Dagger, Malkmus, and a whole bunch more in a list that would be boring to read.
Name three recent albums that you find very good.
Peals “seltzer” tape, Romantic States self titled. My friends Ratburn put out a new record in January that is very enjoyable called “uncertain origins”.
Question by Filip Zemčík
Answers by Jack Stansbury
Photo by Megan Lloyd
ambient bedroom pop from Ohio, USA
If you’re looking for a band that’s a suiting fit to play aloud at your funeral, then look no further, because Toronto’s 4-piece Emo-Shoegaze band iris delivers a haunting and depressing soundtrack.
This 5-track EP entitled “Haunt Me” was released this passing Valentine’s Day and is consistently filled with a combination of strong bass lines, glistening reverb/chorus guitar tones, heavy crashes on drums and your typical washed out, trance-like vocals.
The lyrical content on Haunt Me is very minimalistic, by that I mean all the song lyrics are short, very somber and resemble short poems rather than traditional song lyrics. Nonetheless, iris leaves the listener to interoperate the undeniable synergetic chemistry between vocalists Danielle Clark and Brad Garcia’s lyrics. Such tracks like Ragdoll: “I’m ripping at the seams/That you helped me sew/Shove your kind words in my wounds/Try to save me so” showcase the depressing atmosphere that Haunt Me is built upon, and how the EP offers no sight of hope.
What I like about iris’ EP the most is the overall heaviness compacted into it. The intensity is conveyed throughout the EP in the form of piercing- hard-hitting drums and cymbals on behalf of Matt Tomasi and as well as rhythmic, crying bends from a combination of Scott Downes and Brad Garcia’s guitar work.
Every single track on Haunt Me gives off the utmost sense of despair and melancholy; these adjectives come so naturally when describing the final track on the EP “This isn’t goodbye…” The song starts outs with a solo guitarist slowly playing through the intro, what follows is a unsettling pause that communicated more emotion then what could have been vocalized. And just when you thought that the pause was going to last an eternity, the profound sounds of cymbal crashes and grave guitar chords reinvigorate the listener and keeps them captivated through the other half of the song, “This isn’t goodbye…” certainly delivers.
I would strongly recommend iris’ Haunt Me (and their Killers cover too) to anyone that has an underlying passion for multi-layered, dominant sounding shoegaze that resembles bands like Slowdive or Whirr.
Text by Lukas Foote
Photo by Iris
bedroom pop from Palm Springs, California, USA
bedroom rock from Oakland, California, USA
garage rock from Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom
dream pop from Paris, France
shoegaze from Kirikiriroa (Hamilton), New Zealand
surf rock from Baltimore, Maryland, USA
lo-fi pop from Dublin, Ireland
In some ways, Kane Strang’s debut release, Blue Cheese, is much like that of it’s Dunedin, New Zealand predecessors from the “Dunedin Sound” era of Flying Nun Records and Propellor Records. As a fully cohesive record, however, Blue Cheese creates a layer of sound that the records of the 1980’s were unable to do, blending the lo-fi aesthetic these bands crafted with a more clear and pristine recording technique.
There is something oddly familiar, yet so peculiar in the sound of Blue Cheese. The atmospheric presence on, “Full Moon, Hungry Sun” may play a part in that feeling as it encompasses an expanse much farther than it really is. It is easy enough to imagine this track being played on a grassy lawn to thousands, almost in a headlining festival ambiance but the actual recording feel’s much more intimate. Blue Cheese works with the same lo-fi sounds that have become so commonplace to find on Bandcamp with the rise of artists like Mac Demarco, however, Kane Strang recasts this typical sound with more depth, more accentuated songwriting, and a clearer focus.
In all, Kane Strang has taken something that has become so prevalent and abounding in the independent music sphere and turned it on it’s head to make something meaningful and memorable. Each track from Blue Cheese is inherently different in it’s own right, making for a really captivating listen, begging for more and more attention from it’s keen listener.
Text by Berkley Bragg
Photo by Kane Strang
Berkley runs music blog passwords2tracks.com
ambient pop from Essen, Germany
dream pop from San Bernardino, California, USA